Patient Story: Hydrotherapy

Mark Twain famously described hydrotherapy as “so enjoyable that if I hadn't had a disease I would have borrowed one just to have a pretext for going on”.

Modern hydrotherapy can still benefit people in the same way it soothed

 Twain’s rheumatism. By immersing the body in water, pressure is taken off painful or stiff joints, allowing greater movement and over time muscle strength can be rebuilt.

The temperature of the pool is kept at 34-35°C, just below body temperature, which eases joint pain and ensures that you will be comfortable in the water.

Alan Hawes is currently receiving treatment at Spire Harpenden’s hydrotherapy pool due to a car accident and chronic arthritis, which makes walking on land “too harsh”. Alan likens the weightless feeling of the hydrotherapy pool to “being on the moon”. This gives him much greater movement and freedom, allowing him to even ride a bike in the pool – something he could never do without the support of the water.

Peter Dunkley uses the self-help hydrotherapy at Spire Harpenden Hospital. He describes the service as “fantastic” and really values this “low-impact, enjoyable method of exercising”. Peter came to Spire after his second hip replacement, as he is keen to keep up his fitness levels after his operation.

Both Peter and Alan use Spire Harpenden Hospital’s self-help sessions, which are perfect for those who have had previous hydrotherapy experience and are able to manage their own exercises. Sessions last for approximately 30 minutes, during which time you will be supervised poolside by a hydrotherapy assistant.

Other patients use hydrotherapy before a hip or knee replacement, allowing them to strengthen muscles without stressing the joint – which can result in a quicker recovery from this major surgery.

Spire Harpenden Hospital has a fully purpose built hydrotherapy suite, which is staffed by qualified and friendly physiotherapists and physiotherapy assistants.  Read more about the pool here.

If you would like to share your story please email Nicola at

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